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Interview: Forming by Jesse Moynihan

In line with our New Year’s resolution to keep you better informed, we caught up with illustrator and comic book artist Jesse Moynihan to ask him a bit about his work and process as well as to better acquaint you with the talented artist in the run up to the Nobrow release of Forming. Forming as a web comic has been making waves since its inception two years ago, enrapturing its followers with Jesse’s near daily additions to what has now become a tale of epic proportions. In June 2011 it will finally grace the pages of a volume worthy of its contents as Nobrow releases the first part of Jesse Moynihan’s epic trilogy, Forming: Vol 1. Here’s what he had to say for himself (AS: Alex Spiro, JM: Jesse Moynihan):

AS: When did Forming start as a project?

JM: I started work on Forming in early 2008. It spawned from a talk I had with Dash Shaw after he read an early draft of my graphic novel “Follow Me”. I remember we were walking around New York, going to galleries. I didn’t know him very well, but I respected his willingness to try out different techniques and storytelling devices in his work. So our talk that day got me thinking about trying out a new approach to my old ways. Up until then I was pretty skeptical of the webcomic medium, but I think that day helped me consider the potential of working in that format. I could serialize a full color epic sci-fi story and people could follow it at a snail’s pace! I guess I got into that idea. So then I spent 7 or 8 months gathering information and plotting things out. Then I started drawing the thing in January of 2009.

AS: How has it gained momentum since it began?

JM: I can’t tell. I live and breath Forming. It’s always on my mind. So it’s more like I exist in this state of suspended animation. Every day is the same thing. I get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, exercise, and work on Forming until I fall asleep. I’m very strict about this. So it’s sort of like I’ve been living the same day for the past 2 years. I like routines though. Feels good to me. Whether or not other people feel like Forming is gaining momentum is unknown to me. I hope so.

AS: I assume you have a solid following now, are you surprised by the success of your web comic?

JM: Well I guess success is relative. When I think of successful webcomics I think of Penny Arcade and Achewood. But I’m making a comic that I would want to read, so my ego assumes other people desire the same things from a narrative. It’s hard to project what other people are looking for, so I just go with hermaphrodite aliens etc…

AS: How do you create your work? Practically, what materials do you use, etc

JM: I thumb it out in a marbIeized notebook. Then I work on 11″x14″ Bristol Vellum paper. I pencil it out, color with gouache, and ink over it. Then I scan it into Photoshop and clean up the coffee and chocolate chip stains.

AS: What is your process? do you plan everything in advance? or do you pull a George Lucas and just make shit up as you go along?

JM: It’s a little of both. I have notebooks filled with notes and ideas. I have rough outlines that go all the way to the conclusion. But a lot of it gets changed as I move forward. Some weeks I’ll complete an episode and get an idea that I think will be cool for way down the road. So then I go into my notes and cross stuff out and change things. I try to keep it flexible and I’m always thinking about maintaining that vitality. I don’t worry too much about stuff hooking up completely, or throughlines and all that shit. That stuff is death. I have to deal with that shit every day at my job. It’s my main complaint with traditional entertainment style narrative. I went to a panel at Comicon where these DC guys were talking about how there were like a million variations on the DC Universe as a way to avoid logic problems in their narrative threads. So they were like “This story takes place on Earth 16” and the kids in the audience were like, “Cool. Earth 16.” I couldn’t believe that shit. So I don’t work that way.

AS: What’s next?

JM: After I finish Forming? I’m working on writing a show pitch with my brother Justin. Can’t say any more about that.